The Significance of the Presidential Selfie

ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images

ROBERTO SCHMIDT/AFP/Getty Images

I have been watching the media and social media expound over the Presidential Selfie taken at Nelson Mandela’s Memorial Service and wondering if all the hubbub was not much ado about nothing. What started as a Twitter storm launched at Michelle Obama for her “angry black woman” look in the photo has turned into a full blown “international” incident in the eyes of some of the punditry and new media writers.

My first reaction to seeing the photo in my Twitter feed the day of the memorial for Mandela, was what a great candidate moment of our president interacting with other dignitaries, who are people just like the rest of us. The media storm around the Selfie even caused the photographer to write “The story behind ‘that selfie’.”

Joe Weisenthal wrote a great piece for Business Insider that hit the mark with me on the topic of the Presidential Selfie. Weisenthal contends that “Presidential selfies are actually a much bigger deal than people realize for two reasons.” The conclusion Weisenthal draws from his two reasons:

Obama, Thorning-Schmidt, and Cameron are three of the most powerful people in the world. Obama and Cameron have instant access to the bomb. And yet here they were at this amazing event, signaling that it just doesn’t get old. Being around powerful people in historic moments is awesome, and you want to do something to make it permanent in your mind.

One photo yesterday explained much of social media and also the mindset of the powerful. This was a big deal.

Which really boils down to, doesn’t it, they were just people being people. Everyone’s getting into Selfie’s these days, even the Pope. We all like to capture memories of important moments. Now that we can do it on our own, without someone else weilding the camera, and in that, we are vulnerable to capturing (and sharing online) our own memories whenever we want. How cool is that.

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